let’s get one thing straight – this blog is still family friendly, albeit with a PG13 rating. 😉 Just trust me, and keep reading, ‘k?
Patriarchy, Vision Forum, Stay-at-Home-Daughters, oh my!
The last few days,I’ve been following along on an on-line discussion about Vision Forum. Given my policy of not linking to stuff I despise, I won’t link to any of the official sites. If you’re looking for terms to Google, though, check out Bill Gothard, ATI, ATIA, Vision Forum, Botkin sisters, and bat-poo-crazy-and-blaming-it-on-Jesus. Well, maybe not the last term, but you get the general gist.
I imagine a good many of you have never heard of these people, but most of you have heard of their public face – 19 Kids and Counting, aka the Duggar family. That mostly-serene, soft-spoken clan are heroes of this particular movement, and I can’t think of anyone better to sum it up, honestly. The face presented to the world is that of a loving, family-and-God-centered home, a strong marriage, obedient children. I really do believe that the JimBob and Michelle love every one of those children, want every one of those children, and believe that they are walking in the express will of God – so this isn’t a Duggar-bash-fest. But just as much as I believe they are doing what they believe is right, I believe that they are inadvertently enmeshed in a way of life and a theology that is corrupt and frightening and downright anti-Biblical.
What makes me qualified to speak about this?
I’m glad you asked, because this particular blog post has been percolating around in my brain for quite a while. Simply put, I’m qualified to speak about this because I lived it. No, I didn’t grow up as one of 19 kids, nor do I have 19 kids, thank God! But I grew up in the US Deep South, in a patriarchal sub-culture, in a patriarchal home. Think of every Southern Religious stereotype you know of, remove the snakes, and you pretty much have an idea of how I was raised 😉 When I was almost 13, we moved North, but the patriarchal home moved with me…so I didn’t escape it until my marriage at almost 21. The church I was a member of for so many years pays lip service to the patriarchal ideas in quite a few areas, so even then, it took some hard work to extricate myself from it. I’m 34 now, and in many ways, I feel that I’m still working on leaving it behind me.
So you want to know what it’s like?
Here’s the background: I’ve mentioned previously the thousands and thousands of church services I attended as a child, right? The narrative for many of them went something like this: Eve was created second (inferior). Eve wandered away from her husband (rebellious). Eve was deceived into eating the apple (stupid). Eve persuaded her man to take a nibble (evil). Eve’s inferior, rebellious, stupid capacity for evil resulted in the Fall of mankind. DEATH entered the world because of a WOMAN, people. (Quiet Amens from, well, the men.) Because woman is inferior, rebellious, stupid, and evil, God further cursed her and put her firmly under a man’s control. And TO THIS VERY DAY woman is trying to get away from God’s LAW that says she is CURSED. She tries to CONTROL men. She tries to RULE OVER HIM. She ABANDONS her place, she rebels, and rebellion is AS the SIN of WITCHCRAFT. Witches are WOMEN! (reading material: Chick Tracts. And the comic book glossy ones with caricatures of evil *in color*. Nightmares will result in punishment.)
A name I heard many times back then was William Branham. Hailed as “a prophet” – some churches said he was “THE Prophet”, ours didn’t go that far – he was the man behind many of the elements of Pentecostalism taken for dogma today, particularly Faith Healing. What people tend to gloss over are the quotes from Branham that indicate his attitude toward women. While we weren’t forced to hear his sermons over and over like some churches, he was revered. The church I attended didn’t go quite so far as to teach that black people were the result of Eve having sex with Satan (silly Branham. Why didn’t he realize that black people come from Noah’s son that was cursed? That’s why it was ok to have them as servants and slaves, you know. ***) His misogynistic teachings on women, though…those they embraced 1000 times over.
***of course I don’t believe that! It’s the ‘justification’ used during the Civil War, by parsons everywhere south of the Mason Dixon. It was alive and well in 1980’s Louisiana, unfortunately. 🙁
Here, for your amusement or stomach-churning-disgust, are some of those quotes:
10-4 Now, you can’t have all things. There might be one girl that’s real pretty, and the other girl maybe she’s a–her statue looks better than this one. And you might have to sacrifice one for the other. But if she’s not the statue of a lady, of a woman, and she’s… I don’t care whether she’s pretty or not, you’d better look at her character, whether she’s pretty or not pretty.
Now… For it is becoming if a Christian would choose a wife, he ought to choose a genuine borned again woman. Regardless of what she looks like, it’s what she is what makes her. And then again, that reflects his own godly character and reflects what’s in his mind and what’s going to be in the future, for his family will be raised by such a woman, for the future plans for his home. If he marries one of these little modern Rickettas, sex queens, what could he expect? What kind of home could a man expect to have?
If he marries a girl that ain’t got enough moral about her to stay home and take care of a house and wants to work out in somebody’s office, what kind of a housekeeper will she be? You’ll have baby-setters and everything else. It’s true.
There’s nothing, no female, besides a woman could be immoral. You call a dog a slut; you call a hog a sow; but morally they got more morals than half of the movie stars there is out here. They cannot be nothing else but moral. And the woman was the one that was changed over for the perversion. That’s right. See where the beauty takes her to? Now, that’s why that today we find that women is on the increase of beauty.
23-1 Now, now, that’s just as true as the Word of God is true. No other female is made that can stoop like a woman can. And yet, through that, being made an off… She was not in the original creation. All other females is in the original creation: bird, male and female; animals, male and female. But in human life, God only made a man. And He took from him. And a woman is a byproduct of a man, because God did not institute such a thing. Search the Scriptures. It’s exactly right. God… No, sir. In His original creation she was put out there, but if she can hold herself right, what a greater reward she has than man. She’s put on a testing ground.
Through her come death. She’s guilty of all death. But then God turned around and used one to bring Life back again: brought His Son through the woman, an obedient one. But a bad one is the–the worse there is. There’s nothing that can be as low.
112 Now, there is nothing designed that can deceive, and be deceived, as easy as a woman. There is nothing designed or can stoop as low as a woman can. Think now. There is nothing designed, in all creation, that can stoop as low as a woman can. She can tear a man’s heart to pieces easier than anything else there is in the world, is his wife. Let that nice little wife get to running around with some other man; look at that fellow sitting there with his children, the tears dropping out of his eyes. She is designed that way. She is designed to do this. There is no hog, no dog, or no other animal, designed like her or can stoop as low as she can stoop. Now, that is true.
With regards to my sisters, I just want you to watch.
MARRIAGE.AND.DIVORCE_ JEFF.IN V-3 N-13 SUNDAY_ 65-0221M
113 No animal can be immoral. You call the dog a “slut,” the female dog, you call the male… hog a “sow,” but her morals is a million miles beyond many Hollywood star. That’s how low she is designed to stoop. She can’t… Just think of this now. There is nothing in the world, made in God’s creation, that can be immoral, stoop that low.
114 You say, “Wait a minute, ‘man’!” We’re going to get to that. The woman has to say “yes.”
115 Notice, there is nothing designed to stoop so low, or be filthy, but a woman. A dog can’t do it, a hog can’t do it, a bird can’t do it. No animal is immoral, nor it can be, for it is not designed so it can be. A female hog can’t be immoral, a female dog can’t be immoral, a female bird can’t be immoral. A woman is the only thing can do it.
There’s more, a *lot* more, where that came from…but I think you get the point!
So what did all of that…garbage…mean on a personal level?
It meant that I grew up hearing that I was worth less, and worthless. That because God didn’t see fit to give me a penis, I was created to be subject, subservient, meek, mousy, fertile, and futile. My entire reason for living was to be trained by my parents, so that I could be given to a man that I would proceed to serve, service, and revere.
Career? Nope, not a chance. College? No, not even if I paid for it. A job outside the home while I ‘waited to get married’? Not supposed to happen…but principles were bent once I presented an itemized list of expenses the week of graduation, at the age of 16. (Honestly, I’m sure my father loves me. He really thought he was caring for me by telling me that I was intended to remain at home, under his provision and “covering” and guidance, until he “gave me away”. If this stuff was perpetrated by sadistic monsters, no one would buy into it. It’s the fact that such utter degradation is put forth as normal by people who truly love the very ones they are degrading that makes it so hard to combat.)
It meant lost opportunities from little to big. One such chance…I couldn’t join Civil Air Patrol because a) I would have to wear pants. When the commander waived that requirement, the reasons quickly became b) the point of this is to prepare for a career, which God says you can’t have and c) you may get promoted to a position that would put you “in authority” over a man, and that is sin. In every thing I did, every job I took, every school book given (or withheld – Jesus doesn’t want girls to know Chemistry or Geometry)…in all of this, the message was repeated over and over and over again. I was female, therefore I was lesser than. Lesser than. Lesser than. Lesser than.
God’s plan for my marriage? Babies, babies, more babies…homeschooling, cooking, greeting my husband with a smile and open limbs. Disengage the brain, disengage any “selfish” desires to learn, to know, to use gifts that I was told I could never possibly possess.
How did it turn out?
Because God’s ways are awesome and amazing and full of abundant Grace, I met a man who recoiled in horror from that assessment of women just as much as I did. I married a man who believes I’m beautiful, smart, and worth so much more than the sum of my baby-making-bits and my ability to cook. He supports me, he encourages me, he trusts me and cherishes me as his *partner*, not his *possession*. Just as he is so much more to me than a penis and a paycheck, I’m so much more to him than a plaything and a parent-to-offspring.
I have a career that I love. I have a son I adore. I have a husband that I thank God every single day for, a man who has shown me that it’s possible to be cherished and loved without being condescended to.
And yet, at times, I still have a moment of panic where I look around for lightning bolts. A glance in the mirror as I walk by has me doing a double take – sometimes I’m afraid that looking back at me will be the woman I was told I had to be, instead of the woman I am. Criticism brings out that innate fear – maybe I’m not good enough. Maybe I really can’t do this!
But the longer I walk away from it, the stronger I become. I have a loving, family-and-God-centered home. I have a strong marriage, and an obedient child. And I also have freedom, and a sense of security in belonging to the only One who has the right to own me, the One I joyfully surrendered to. Anything less is a perversion of His design.
And that, my friends, is why I use the F-word so proudly today.
I, dear readers, am a Feminist. 😉
Edit: Aug. 25, 2011
Apparently, I wasn’t clear enough in this post. So let me save everyone some time and clearly state the following.
I do NOT believe William Marion Branham was “The Prophet” or “A Prophet”. The only kind of prophet he was, according to the Word of God, was a false one. He made multiple predictions that were untrue. I completely reject his theology as false and abhorrent. So for all of you who are leaving me long, long comments trying to persuade me to study his words and give them the same credence as Holy Writ…please, save your time. I’m not ever going to publish your comments, and the only thing I do when I see them is say a prayer that your eyes would be opened to the truth. Peace out 😉